In This House, by Angela Cartwright, Sarah Fishburn

By | 8 April 11

In This House - Cartwright & FishburnIn This House – A Collection of Altered Art and Collage Techniques, by Angela Cartwright and Sarah Fishburn, is kind of a “sleeper” of a book.  It’s easy to overlook it in a sea of mixed-media art books.  The book cover really doesn’t do it justice.

Each of 13 brilliant artists — including Kelly Kilmer, Nina Bagley, and Lesley Riley — started with a template that’s the shape of a house.  Then, they used their unique creative visions to make those “houses” into astonishing and varied works of art.

This book shows the art is detail, with comments, backstories, and appropriate quotations to lend even more depth to each artist’s work.

  • Discover what inspired these artists — the “lightbulbs” of originality that led to these deliciously rich houses of collage, paint, photos, metal, and other dimensional elements.
  • Learn about their materials and techniques, and why they included what they did.
  • Take your own art to new heights by gleaning tips and helpful information, directly from each artist.

Frankly, I read a lot of art books. I keep only a few of them, and this one is definitely a keeper. The variety of art and inspiration makes this a unique resource for rainy days and creative dreams.

It’s one of just a few books I hand-carried from Texas to New England, when we moved.

This book is tremendous… and that can be both good and bad.  Why?  Well, on some days — and for some artists — the pages of this book can lead to blank stares and the inner question, “Oh dear heaven, where do I start?”

That happens to every artist, now and then.

My advice?  If the richness and layers of the work overwhelm you, focus on one collage element — for example, wallpaper swatches, vintage photos, or diluted white paint or gesso — and look for that throughout the book.

Different artists will highlight varied approaches to that same element, and at least one will be a “lightbulb” moment for you.

Also, the back of the book includes the same template the artists used, as well as some glorious collage elements for your own work.  (My tip: Scan and print — or color photocopy — them.  This book is too juicy and wonderful to cut up.)

Start simple.  Add more materials.  Explore new techniques.  Retreat to what’s comfortable, and then surge forward again, finding self-expression in layers.


  • Lots of artists, materials & techniques.
  • Tremendous insights, explaining exactly why the artists included what they did.
  • Nearly endless visual inspiration, no matter what your skill level.


  • Book cover doesn’t grab your attention, so it’s easy to overlook this book.
  • No step-by-step, detailed instructions for beginners.
  • Intricacy of art, materials and techniques can be overwhelming, even for experienced collage and mixed-media artists.


The home is a symbol of comfort and stability for many of us.  This book explores that theme, but also shows us a variety of materials and techniques that can expand any artist’s range of expression.

If you’re a collage artist or working in mixed media, this is a book to own. It’s an infinite resource of inspiration and ideas.

art books review rating - 4 stars

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